Digital Persuasion: Don’t Let Your Audience Drift Away
The heart of a trial lawyer beats to persuade. If you cannot convince the fact finder to see the truth in your case, then you cannot win. Persuasive oratory relies on knowing what to say, when to say it and how to present it. To properly create an influential technological presentation, one must understand effective psychological concepts. Creation of an effective presentation will be easier after understanding the psychological and philosophical benefits and limitations of pairing words with visuals.
My new book Dropping the Digital Anchor: Preparing and Presenting Your Case with Technology will help you harness the psychology behind effective communication and put together memorable visual presentations. You can learn more about the book at www.justice.org/digitalanchor.
People are communicative, social beings. And there are many ways to converse. Several are verbal. Many are non-verbal. Jurors are strongly influenced by how well an attorney can communicate in the courtroom. With mixed media, we can maximize our persuasive communication. And with today’s equipment, lawyers can assist transmission of ideas in a manner that leads to persuasive advocacy.
A mind’s memory loses gathered information as time passes. Hermann Ebbinghaus was the first psychologist to focus his study on learning and memory. He was so dedicated that he carried out long experiments on himself. His studies determined that one hour after learning, half of the information was forgotten. This is followed by slower loss thereafter. 24-hours after learning something, only one-third of the information remained. After six days, it was one-fourth. And by the end of the month, one-fifth remained in memory.
This is troubling for any attorney. Since the completion of a trial may take weeks or even months. Most jurors would forget a great deal by the time the trial is over. Thus, we need to become experts on learning and connecting with the jury’s mind. By dropping a digital anchor, it can keep those memories from drifting away.
Your message must ring in the jury’s mind. Nancy Duarte, a communications expert, writes about different ways to have your ideas reverberate within the listener. She believes that, for effective communication, ideas should resonate. It is not enough to just hear the message; it must echo in jurors’ minds and cause them to act according to the message. Resonance is connecting with the audience and having them sync with your idea, follow the reasoning for it, and be able to repeat it in the future. It is not enough to just pass along an idea to the jurors that will dissipate before they enter the jury room. We want our message to echo within that room.
Research-based learning demonstrates that human communication and comprehension are considerably advanced when visual displays are added to words. In litigation, our theories and themes should be presented visually and auditorily with the hope that the jury learns the information we present using the multimedia principle. We should embrace the combination of words and pictures as part of our practice.
Words can be in spoken form; presented by the attorney, the witnesses, or video. Or they can be affixed to labels on slideshow screens, records and reports, printed boards, or other demonstrative aids. Pictures can be presented in illustrations, charts, graphs, or photos. They can also be presented through animation or video. Pictures can also be displays created live. An expert can take a pen to a pad, a stylus to an iPad, or simply pick up a model and point to relevant areas.
Effective communication needs a planned presentation of words and displays. Jurors actually expect information to be delivered with words and complimenting displays. We should provide it to them. Strengthen your communication and, thereafter, provide strong persuasion through presentation.